A pupil heard a teacher say that when by long training the individuality is transcended there is a cosmic effect. This effect is far greater than anything produced on the individual plain by individual words and actions. So this pupil asked the teacher: “It is clear to us sir, when we face you, that your former individuality has been transcended. So how is it that you continue giving teachings? We are grateful for them but from what you have said it seems contradictory that you go on.”
The teacher told him about an incident in a nineteenth century autobiography by a doctor who had lived near a crossroads. In the bleak winters of that century, sweepers were employed to keep the crossings clear of snow. The sweeper had a little hut where he lived, and was not paid much. The doctor, out of compassion, took an interest in him and looked after him, but finally the old man died of cold in his little hut.
Later on, the doctor was permitted to have a vision of heaven. He described a wonderful place with lapis lazuli floors with gold-dust on them. His guide explains things to him and he enquired about the souls of people there, and in particular about the soul of the old crossing sweeper. The guide said that yes, he was indeed there, but that it sometimes took a little time for the souls of the blessed to realise that they were in heaven. He pointed to a child angel who had picked up some of the feathers which had fallen off the wings of the angels and tied them together with a golden harp string onto an amethyst rod, to make a sort of broom.
The little angel was brushing the gold-dust across the heavenly floor. The doctor recognised the soul of the old crossing sweeper and asked whether he remembered anything of his life on earth. The little angel said, ‘Yes, just a few things,’ and mentioned the lake and the mountains, and then said, ‘And there was something called suffering, but I can no longer remember what it was.’ The guide said that the mere existence of the child angel was bringing blessings to the world he had left, but it might take a little time before he realised he did not need to do anything, but just to be.
After telling this story the teacher said: “And I suppose that after realisation all of us will tend to go on for a little time, prompted by the traces of our memories. And perhaps we shall recall vaguely that there was something called duty but we shall no longer remember what it was.”
© 2000 Trevor Leggett